Grand River Cemetery


The United States has a handful of true necropolises, and there is no other place on Earth quite like the vast burial site of Grand River Cemetery (GRC). It reminds visitors of the graveyard town of Colma, California, the large cemeteries of Paris and New Orleans, and of the necropolises of Egypt.


Created during a century-long period when San Cipriano law required that all burials must take place in the Franklin District beside the Grand River, the Grand River Cemetery was originally owned by the notorious Carpenter family dynasty (one of the city’s founding families). Wealthy families, extant and extinct alike, built huge mausoleums and crypts in the cemetery, while poorer folk were interred in every possible arrangement throughout the enormous grounds.


Beginning with a single cemetery in the early 19th century, GRC expanded and took over several small settlements and neighborhoods over the course of more than 100 years, pushing out the living and replacing them with the resting places of the dead—from the majestic crypts and mausoleums of the wealthy, to paupers’ graves with nothing but an old wooden cross and bones wrapped in rotten winding-cloth, just about any kind of interment can be found here. Bizarrely, many eccentric residents of San Cipriano have seen to it that remains of people never resident in this area are now buried here—you could theoretically find Egyptian mummies in imported mastabas, the ashes of ancient Romans in urns, or any number of other curious additions to the dead in the Grand River Cemetery.


Part of the Grand River Cemetery was originally wetlands, but was drained to make more usable land. Some of that land has been reclaimed by the swampy muck, but it’s hard to be sure exactly which parts have reverted. Suffice to say that it’s not a good idea to go in the wrong parts of GRC for many reasons. The place became infamous during the 1930s for the actions of grave robbers called Resurrectionists in the 1930s and for the efforts of loved ones to make burial sites hazardous to rob (including guardian animals, deadly traps and more). After the Carpenter family’s grim collapse in the 1970s, the neighborhood was subdivided by would-be new operators, but most of them failed or were bought out.


Today, Grand River Cemetery is a city of the dead within the bounds of San Cipriano, too tangled in old legal and financial chaos to be bulldozed and redeveloped in any but the smallest way. Grand River Cemetery is a sprawling place, easily as big as any other city neighborhood. On its outskirts, criminals, homeless people and rebellious teenagers set up shop among the tombstones and in the old sepulchres. At night, no one but the supernatural and its hunters will dare set foot inside the deepest parts of the cemetery.